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New

June 11th, 2021

What’s the difference between overbite and overjet?

Hi, I’m Dr. Mark Knoefel from Oasis Orthodontics, where smiles come to life. One of the questions I often get is, “Well, I’ve got a big overbite. Does it need to get fixed?” The problem is that overbite means different things to different people. There’s that everyday term and it often mistakenly gets associated with, let’s say, top teeth that are sticking out too far, top front teeth that are sticking out too far. So we’ll say, let’s take Harold over here and we move his bottom jaw back. And we now say, “Wow, Harold has a massive overbite.” Well, that’s actually not correct. Overbite is an actual dental term, but it does not refer to this horizontal distance between the top and bottom of front teeth. This horizontal distance, so this distance that those top teeth look like this sticking out compared to the bottom ones, is actually called overjet. Overbite isn’t a horizontal problem, overbite is a vertical problem. Right now, if you look at Harold over here, he has really no overbite issue at all. He has a big overjet, but a pretty much normal overbite.

Let’s show other examples. Well, some people bite down on their back teeth and they can’t get their front teeth together. This is what’s called an anterior openbite, meaning the teeth are not in contact at all. There’s an actual gap. That’s a negative overbite. On the other hand, you can now have the opposite problem, which is where the top and bottom front teeth overlap too much. Sometimes even burying the bottom front teeth completely and that is called a deep or even impinging overbite. Let me really confuse you now. Is it possible to have an overbite problem and an overjet problem at the same time? Absolutely. In fact, when you have a bottom jaw that’s too far back and now there’s an overjet problem, oftentimes these bottom front teeth have nothing to bite against and so you’ll find that they’re going to be over abrupt. They’re going to be higher than the back teeth are and actually ended up biting into the gums on the inside of the top teeth and that can sometimes be very painful. It can even cause gum recession. And almost without exception, it will cause wear and excessive damage to the bottom front teeth, especially if it’s not treated.

So overjet, horizontal problem. Overbite, vertical problem. Come and see us at Oasis Orthodontics, 780-457-5566. Check out our YouTube channel and check out all these other cool questions that we’re going to answer for you, things you always wanted to know about orthodontics and didn’t dare ask.

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